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Choosing the “Right” Friends

Do you have a child who complains that he doesn’t have friends or a child that picks friends that you don’t approve of?  How can you help them make better choices?

First, understand your child.  We are all different in unique ways.  You can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole.  Some children are quiet and passive while others are active and assertive.

Some suggestions:

1)      Allow your children to choose their own friends.  (They will anyway)

2)      If your child chooses a friend you don’t like, invite that child into your home often and hope that the love and values you practice will be beneficial to him or her.

3)      If you are afraid a friend you don’t approve of will have a negative influence on your child, focus on being a positive influence through a good relationship with your child.

4)      Don’t worry about whether your child has the right number of friends. 

Planning ahead to prevent future problems

1)       Help children who have difficulty making friends by exposing them to many opportunities, such as trips to the park, Scouts or other youth groups.

2)        Go along with your child’s wishes about clothing styles so he won’t be embarrassed about not fitting in.

3)      Make your home a place where kids love to come because they experience unconditional love, safe and respectful rules, and plenty of fun, child-oriented activities.

Children can learn that their parents are their best friends because they love them unconditionally, value their uniqueness, and have faith in them to choose friends that are right for them.

If your child is consistently choosing friends you do not approve of, look at your relationship with your child.  Are you being too controlling, inviting your child to prove you can’t control everything?  Is your child feeling hurt by your criticism and lack of faith in her and trying to hurt back by choosing friends you don’t like?  Have faith in your children and honor who they are.  Try to make the people your children choose as friends welcome at your home, even if they are not the friends you would choose.  Your children may be making decisions about friends based on how you treat your friends.  Are you acting how you would like your children to act?

The Best Teacher Ever….

Julie Heil- PHP Outreach Coordinator located in Buffalo

The best teacher I every had-

That’s an easy one- the best teacher I ever had was my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Ellis. Somehow she knew that I needed a little extra nurturing that year. She invited me to spend a lot of time with her after school, we would clean off the desks, organize the bookshelves, talk about life and friends, movies and books. I had a sick sister, came from a single parent home and really needed the extra attention that Mrs. Ellis gave me.

 I’m sure she was a great teacher in many other ways too.  Because of the huge Wyoming quilt our class made, I canstill remember all the Wyoming counties and their county seats  However, the subjects she taught and how she taught them are not what stayed with me. What stands out the most, is how she made me feel; safe, special and most of all, worthy of her time. I’m sure this experience is what led me want to be a teacher myself. Mrs. Ellis’s influence was one of the greatest gifts. I learned that every child may need a little extra scoop of attention from time to time and that sometimes the smallest kind gesture can make a world of difference.

Phonetic What…

Deb Allender, F2F Outreach based in Casper

Early Literacy is a tool we can give our children that will help shape  their futures in a million ways. It doesnt cost a million dollars, it  just takes moments of our time to read to them, to let them read to us,  to encourage their imaginations, to hone their guessing skills. Early  literacy doesn’t just have to be flashcards and phonetic drills. It  can, and should, be encorperated into every aspect of life. Reading is  something every family can do together…..even if it is the side of the  mac and cheese box while cooking dinner. It is a practical skill that  once we give our children, can not be taken away. Once a child learns to  read they have worlds opened up for them. They can use reading to learn  and grow, they can use it to escape and imagine, they can use it to  laugh and question.  If we instill in our young children a true passion  for literacy we are really giving them the world-any part of it they  wish to explore.

Children will learn to love reading if the adults they are around model  a love of reading. And I know I am as guilty as the next tired single  mom, who just doesn’t have time to sit down and read for fun anymore. 

And I will admit I sometimes go for the book with just a few more  pictures and a few less words, but you know what?  It’s still a book,  and we can still look for clues in the illustrations and make  predictions before we turn the page and we can read it with silly  voices- some of my boys favorties things about how I read. We can find  a way to enjoy the moments we do have, build it into the routine,  strengthen learning in unconventional ways, and really install that  passion in our children.

I often worry that I am not doing enough for my children, but the  reality is I am doing the best that I know how to do. And that is really all any of us can do as parents. So don’t beat yourself up for the  stories you didnt read last night, just take a breath and read a short one tonight.

Cell Phone Nemesis

The world of instant communication has brought us a lot of advantages. We can reach across the whole world in a matter of seconds. It has also brought with it a host of problems. Call me old fashioned but why are six year olds carrying around cell phones? There is a place, a reason, and time for everything and school is not the place, reason, or time for cell phone use. I have heard some of the arguments that the children would be able to dial someone in an emergency.  More times than not, small children freeze during a crisis. There should be a teacher in every class room and monitors in the hall.  If there is an emergency they can call for help. I do believe it would be alright for high school age students to keep them in their lockers, or cars where they could access their phones during lunch time. I cannot see how a student could possibly be learning in class while holding a cell phone on their lap texting. We know it is very dangerous to try and drive while on the cell phone. It is also dangerous for a lot of children that are continually mocked teased and harassed through cell phones. They make an excellent tool for bullies.  I overheard a girl in the hall of the high school who was so upset because she had forgotten her cell phone. I thought she was going to cry.  I could not help but wonder, would she be that upset if she had misplaced a good book she was reading, or a school report?  I would love to see a nationwide ban on cell phone use by students in public schools. What about all of you?

All of that UNWANTED Advice….

 

Jan Jones- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Cheyenne

I love to sneak in the unwanted parenting advise with all my children. After all, I have been there, done that! I certainly got a lot of that advice from my mother so It is now my turn to shine!

I recently had to decide where my granddaughters were going to get their  PROM dresses. I suggested the local recycle prom dress exchange. Now this exchange has already been open for two months so everything is picked over! Wow! All the dresses looked like something from the 80’s. Even I agree.

One granddaughter came out in a cotton dress, floor lengh, flower child style with a lot of ribbons. The next granddaughter came out in a tight fitting, low cut black version of Cruella De Ville. (She did not have the necessary curves but it did match her black nail polish) There were many different left over bridesmaids dresses that made them look like they were unhappy never a bride material. One suggestion was made to add a hoop petticoat under one dress. My granddaughter was concerned about how she would fit to dance with her date. We are headed to the CHEAP prom dress section of the mall tonight.  I will hate going along but since I have the pocket book I will provide the unwanted parenting advice. I may even provide pictures of the big day to all you bloggers!! Wish me luck!

Goals, Goals, Goals… Family Planning

Blanca Moye- Parents as Teachers Parent Educator- Jackson Area

When I think about goals for my own family or the families who I work with a bunch of ideas come to mind. So before I start talking about my ideas for goals, I would love to hear ideas from you too. To support our families mostly when summer is coming and when everyone is busy.

One of the more important goals I will be doing is more reading to my children every day; for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. For example, choosing one new word to focus on- such as “Horse”- we can then read books about farms, animals, etc…We can create family stories regarding horses, who had a horse?, what kind of horse the family likes? We can do art projects revolving around the subject such as draw horses, other animals, nature or makeup a story regarding the horses closest ‘friends’.

Other one will be increasing our healthy skills as a family. We are planning to cook together, making salads, counting fruit and vegetable intake, and drinking more water. If we make it a competition to see who can be the healthiest – it makes it fun for the whole family!

If we start with a little step at a time, everyone will see the difference- planning family goals is always the first step.

The Week of the Flu

The flu is never fun!

After a week of family-wide stomach flu, I’m again reminded of the value of sleep.  I’ve found sleep—or the total lack thereof—to be one of the biggest adjustments when it comes to parenthood.  Good rest is of course important for adults and children—lack of sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, obesity, immunity problems, diabetes, and even ADHD. However, sometimes helping our kids get the sleep they need is easier said than done.  Here are some things that I have found helpful… some advice from other parents, some from experts, and some from plain old trial and error.

1) Consistency—My dude is not a very consistent baby, but bedtime we stick to.  He goes to bed within the same ½ hour window every night.  It helps him sleep and gives me a predictable end time on those days where, well, I just need an end time.

2) No distractions—We have no toys, stuffed animals, or anything too exciting within reach of the crib.  We don’t play in it—it is designated as a sleep-only zone.  Down the road, this will also mean no TVs, computers, etc. in the bedroom.  I assessed many children as a school psychologist whose only problem was that they stayed up watching TV until 3:00 AM.

3) Noise—I made fun of my sister when she used to take her baby’s white noise maker with her everywhere she went.  Now we don’t travel without ours.  I’ve found it has multiple benefits—it teaches my kiddo to sleep with noise while blocking out other, more disturbing noises, especially when we’ve traveled.  Plus, when we do travel, it is something familiar in an unfamiliar environment.  Finally, he is so used to sleeping when he hears his “sound” that now I swear just hearing it makes him sleepy!

4) Developing Sleep Skills—I’m a believer that kids need to develop the ability to put themselves to sleep and not rely on parents to get them there.  Teaching these can be tough, but my life sure seems easier now that my dude’s got some skills of his own.

5) Good Sleep Environment—I was baffled that the best my child’s ever slept was in an unfamiliar CLOSET over Christmas break, until I figured out that it was because the closet was pitch black.  He napped like crazy.  We came home and I adjusted his bedroom accordingly.

What do you think?  What has helped you teach your child good sleep habits? Or, just as importantly, how do you ensure that you, as a parent, get the sleep you need?

Chores + Allowance – Should They Be Tied Together?

Juanita Bybee- PHP Office Manager

I personally think that kids need to have some simple and age appropriate chores that are not tied to money.  I think that they need to be some type of chores that a child can do to make them feel like they are a part of the family. There are always chores to be accomplished around the house that a child can take pride in, folding clothes, setting the table for dinner, putting away the dishes in the dishwasher, keeping their bed made and their toys picked up. Their room should be their sanctuary and keeping it neat and tidy will help them feel good about themselves. It also will prepare them for school when they will need to find things quickly, have homework and be ready to start the day.

I feel like allowance should be saved for extra things- age appropriate things. If they want a special toy or want to save up money for an outing to a movie with friends.  These are things that could help teach children patience and how to save and manage money. I do not feel like children should have to pay for their own lunch tickets or clothing …things that are the parents’ responsibility- of course.

I think this is where parents can help children start to take charge of their own personal self esteem.  A child will not know how to pull themselves up out of the mud if they are never in the mud.  A child will never know how to push themselves if there are no expectations placed on them.  I think this is where the rubber meets the road.  If we challenge our children and keep raising the bar, they will begin to challenge themselves and know for themselves that they are more than capable and can accomplish anything they put their mind to.  But it starts at home with simple and meaningful tasks, and probably a lot of whinning.  What are your thoughts?

The NO TV Challenge: Think YOU Can Handle It?

Julie Heil- PHP Outreach Coordinator located in Buffalo

I am prepared for the BATTLE! My family has attempted and sometimes completed a No TV Challenge several times over the last three years that we have actually had cable television. There are lots of moans and groans for the first two days and then my two kids figure out that they have things they have forgotten about like…..

Bikes, Games, Books, Art Supplies, Pets, oh and those pesky adults in the house called PARENTS.

Really, it is amazing to me how my middle school son will be watching Spongebob when I leave the room and the next time I peak into the family room, there is some hot mess of a female on the scream holding a huge gun and killing a metal person/vehicle while screaming profanities. WHAT I scream- “mom its Megan Fox, relax” he says. “All my friends get to watch whatever they want and plus its only PG-13”. (I’m kinda stuck on the rating thing- PG-13 just means the absence of the F word- all else is fair game as demonstrated by Megan’s bodacious bod and use of weaponry while wearing a bikini)

I don’t like TV, I think it sends the wrong messages to our kids on so many levels, you have to be skinny, with perfect clothes, own the best cars and eat a ton of junk food (thinking of the commercial of the father and son standing in a beautiful wavy corn field taking about how high fructose corn syrup is natural and really good for you)  Plus, the kids in these shows talk so nasty to each other. Their dialogues are wrought with sarcasm and innuendo that children don’t understand. Oh, how I wish for the days when Dora the Explorer was the hero of our house. I loved her chubby little girl ways and mismatched clothes, her adventurous spirit and sweet Abula that gave wise advise.

I have hidden the remotes, unhinged the dish and I am ready for the fight! This week we are TV free, are you up for it?

Umm, Ohh, I, I, I, The Topic That Makes Parents Stammer…

Ethelyn Sharpe- PEN Parent Educator out of Cheyenne

Where do babies come from?  What is sex?  Why are boys and girls different?  These are all questions that can make parents stutter and stammer.  Why is it so hard for us to talk to our children about sex?  Is there an easy way?  Most  experts agree that keeping things simple and the lines of communication open are key elements to talking to children about sex, but even with those ideas in place, it’s not easy!  Hopefully, here are some tips to make it a little less painful!

Do keep it simple.  Start with minimal information, and wait for your child to ask another question.  Young children might be satisfied with “mom has a special place in her body that grows a baby”, where an older child will want to know how the baby got there. 

Decide with your partner what values you want to teach to your children.  What do you want to teach, as a family?  Abstinence, responsible premarital sex?  When do you talk about birth control?  For daughters, is using Birth Control Pills an option?  If so, at what age?  Are you willing to buy condoms for your sons?

Use outside resources.  As mentioned in the previous blog, talk to your pediatrician.  Also, books are a good option.   Clergymen and school counselors can also be a great resource.

Keep your sense of humor.  Let’s face it, sometimes things are just funny.  Being able to laugh and not treat the subject as “taboo” does help keep the lines of communication open.

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